Looking for an unpretentious, cool AF place to drink near Chicago?

Head to Delilah’s to shoot a game of pool while exploring the whiskey universe.

It’s almost impossible to imagine now, with every major American city boasting a whiskey bar (or 20), that in 1993 Delilah’s in Chicago’s Lincoln Park was practically unique. And while a handful of high-end whiskey bars in such places as New York and Los Angeles existed, they catered to Scotch drinkers. Delilah’s focused on the whiskey that was made half a day’s drive south of the Windy City – bourbon.

Owner Mike Miller, whose first love was filmmaking, wanted to create a space where people who loved whiskey, film, art, and music could congregate, all contained in a space with absolutely no pretentions. And no clock on the wall. He envisioned that his customers, “…would not just be drinking whiskey, but learn about it. To come through the door here and want to open the book.”

Miller opened Delilah’s just as bourbon was beginning to regain its status as the premier American whiskey and as industry faces such as distillers Jimmy Russell (Wild Turkey), Parker Beam (Heaven Hill), and Elmer T. Lee (what is now Buffalo Trace) began to travel to promote their products. They quickly found their way to Delilah’s where they would sit for hours and chat with whiskey enthusiasts.

The bar, which now has a collection of spirits well north of 1,000, not only features bourbon, but whiskey from 14 countries. Seventy Scottish distilleries are represented. According to Miller, “At last November’s WhiskeyFest in Chicago, we hosted the largest tasting of Japanese whiskeys ever held in America…we had 151 Japanese whiskey options for people to … sample.”

Beyond whiskey, Delilah’s hosts beer and wine events and a rotating selection of DJs who play different music each night – punk, reggae, country, rock & roll, and more. The walls feature art by Chicago artists. Three nights a week there are film screenings from classic horror and sci-fi to live concert movies and classic grind house.

The bar is fast approaching 10,000 days of being open. (Its 27-year, seven-days-a-week streak was interrupted by COVID.) And Miller is still passionate what he does.

“For me, it still will always be about community.”


2771 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60614

Former restaurant critic and beverage columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, Susan is bourbon columnist for Food & Dining and Covey Rise magazines and also writes for Bourbon+, LEO Weekly, and American Whiskey (tasting notes and ratings). Susan has authored or co-authored six books including Kentucky Bourbon Country: The Essential Travel Guide, The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, The Bourbon Tasting Notebook, and The American Whiskey Tasting Notebook, and Which Fork Do I Use with My Bourbon? – Setting the Table for Tastings, Food Pairings, Dinner, and Cocktail Parties. Susan is a member of the Order of the Writ, former president of both the Bourbon Women Association and the Kentucky chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, an organization of women culinary professionals.